Social interaction is incredibly vital for young people. It helps the development of language and communication; it forges and strengthens interpersonal relationships, and it enables children to acquire the key social skills that they’ll need to rely on for the rest of their lives. As most social interaction happens during free time, creating a communal school playground that facilitates and promotes interaction can be highly beneficial. Not only does it allow children to benefit from social interaction in the future; it caters for their happiness and wellbeing needs today. Here, we look at some of the features you can add to your playground to make it more communal.
A sports zone
By their very nature, team sports involve a great deal of social interaction. There’s the camaraderie within each team, the banter between teams, and taking part requires people to adopt roles, negotiate, communicate and follow a set of rules. In this sense, team sports are of high value when it comes to social interaction and facilitating them should be high on the agenda when creating a communal playground.
There are plenty of choices available for schools when it comes to adding a team sports zone to a playground. For those with larger budgets, there’s always the option of installing artificial grass pitches for sports like football, hockey, tennis, cricket and rugby. A more affordable option is to have playground markings added to your existing surfacing. These are available for sports such as football, netball, basketball, cricket and tennis. For schools with smaller playgrounds, it is even possible to get a multicourt, where the markings for three separate sports are overlaid in different colours, so children can interchange which games they play. Of course, these markings can be embellished with the requisite goals and nets, and there are even multi-form versions of these to go with the multicourt.
A roleplay area
Roleplay is something younger children do naturally. It’s a key part of growing up that helps them discover how the world is through playing characters and acting out scenarios. Through roleplay, children learn about people, relationships, roles, rules and status. It helps them develop social skills and develop problem-solving, communication, empathy and self-confidence. It’s a rich source of essential learning that also has the benefit of being great fun.
Facilitating roleplay can easily be done just by leaving a basket of costume pieces and props to play with. Provide a pram and a doll, for example, and a child will take on the role of a parent and their friends as doctors, shopkeepers, grandparents or other characters. For more thrilling roleplay, our wide range of imaginative play equipment can help take their inventiveness even further. Our collection includes shop kiosks, play trains, playboats, castle-themed climbing towers and much more.
A communal seating area
Hanging out is also important for social interaction. It’s where ideas and opinions are discussed, views exchanged, similarities and differences explored and where relationships bond. All communal playgrounds should have somewhere where children can simply just sit in their friendship groups and chat, even if it’s about nothing more than their favourite band, team or Tik-Tok video.
From circular benches and picnic tables, to play huts and large octagonal shelters, there is plenty of seating equipment now available that’s specifically designed to encourage social interaction in the playground and provide children with comfortable places to sit or eat.
A climbing zone
Whether it’s a play tower, trim tail, rope climbing equipment or a climbing frame, children love to play on them with their friends. They inspire roleplay and present new challenges while requiring children to communicate constantly as they make use of them or try to get from A to B. We often see children in climbing zones helping others get around, giving encouragement and praising success, all key ingredients to making a playground more inclusive and communal.
A games zone
Creating a playground game zone is another way to encourage social interaction and provide entertainment. Playing games together strengthens bonds between children and improves their communication and interpersonal skills.
Playground markings can be installed for traditional hopscotch and skipping type games, and modern tabletop games with built-in seating can be purchased for those that are less inclined to physical activity and are more interested in strategy games, like chess, ludo, snakes and ladders and Connect 4. We also have table games available, like spinning football, puzzles and table tennis.
A communal playground is one in which every member of the school community feels welcome and in which all pupils are given the facilities and encouragement to interact with each other. This type of environment is essential for developing social and interpersonal skills and helps the school be a more harmonious and inclusive place to attend. If you are looking to make your playground more communal, hopefully, the ideas suggested here will help.
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